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Dex Parios returned to comics this week in the second volume of Stumptown by Greg Rucka, Matthew Southworth and Rico Renzi, as she begins to tackle “The Case of the Baby in the Velvet Case.” Did the long-awaited return of Portland’s finest and feistiest private investigator deliver? Here are just a few reviews from around the web:
Matthew Santori-Griffith, Comicosity: “Volume one of Stumptown is probably one of my favorite comic series of the last few years, and for good reason. It’s the perfect blend of character focus, beautiful art, high production value, and sharp detail that makes lead character Dex Parios so brilliant to watch in action. Coming in with such high expectation off a previous volume (or case, as the books are titled), the start of volume two had a mighty hill to climb. I can say it succeeds in every way to match up to my expectation.”
Grant McLaughlin, The Weekly Crisis: “It is a noticeable departure from the tone of the original series, but it’s not a complete one-eighty. While Greg Rucka illustrates Dex’s stabler lifestyle by showing her unpacking the office, he also in certain to demonstrate that the Dex we know and love is still alive and well. A major part of the first volume was Dex’s own personal code of honour, which went a long way in making her a sympathetic character (well, that and her interactions with the book’s supporting cast), and although that initial scene might be a little confusing for readers new to the character, it reinforces that code and how capable of a private investigator Dex is.”
The plus side of something being creator-owned is that, in most cases, that means it’s also creator-controlled; the more practical and technical aspects — release schedule, pricing, etc. — are something that creators have some level of input into, even if not final say over. Which is, let’s be honest, a pretty great thing … well, until it means you have to wait for the good stuff, of course. Which is to say: I can’t tell you how glad I am that Greg Rucka and Matthew Southworth’s Stumptown is back this week.
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.
If I had $15: Whoah, another tough week to narrow things down. Is every Brian Wood-written title required to come out the same week of each month? Do Dark Horse and Marvel get together and plan it that way, so that people who only buy Wood comics only have to go to the store once a month? I think more than half the DC titles I buy come out this time every month, too. So yeah, lots to pick from …
Anyway, I’d start with one of those Brian Wood comics, Conan the Barbarian #8 (Dark Horse, $3.50), which features Vasilis Lolos on art. Lolos drew one of my favorite issues of Northlanders, “The Viking Art of Single Combat,” so it’s cool to see the two of them working together again. I’d also get a comic I’m sure will be popular with a few of my colleagues, the first issue of the new Stumptown miniseries by Greg Rucka and Matthew Southworth (Oni Press, $3.99). Next I’d get Manhattan Projects #6 (Image, $3.50); this issue turns the focus from America’s secret science program to Russia’s secret science program. Jonathan Hickman and Nick Pitarra are having a lot of fun with this one. Finally, I’d get Uncanny X-Force #31 (Marvel, $3.99), which really picked things up last issue … and this is a comic that’s usually running on twice as many cylinders anyway.
If I had $30, I’d also grab two finales from DC Comics — Shade #12 and Resurrection Man #0 (both $2.99). Honestly, I never expected to see a Resurrection Man comic again, much less by the guys who wrote the original, so the fact that we got a good run of 13 issues is a pleasant surprise. Shade, of course, was planned as 12 issues from the beginning, and was a nice return to the Starman-verse by writer James Robinson. That leaves me room for three more $2.99 comics, which means I’m going to bypass X-Men, The Massive and Avengers Assemble this week (let’s assume that I’ll one day spend my splurge money on the trades) and instead go with Chew #28 (Image, $2.99), It Girl and the Atomics #2 (Image, $2.99) and Demon Knights #0 (DC Comics, $2.99).
Splurge: Assuming I wouldn’t spend my unlimited gift card on single issues, I’d be looking at the first Bucko collection from Dark Horse ($19.99) and Fantagraphics’ Is That All There Is? trade ($25).
It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics. Michael and Graeme have each picked the five new comics we’re most anticipating in order to create a Top 10 of the best new comics coming out two months from now.
As usual, please feel free to play along in the comments. Tell us what we missed that you’re looking forward to or – if you’re a comics creator – mention your own stuff.
Blacklung HC (Fantagraphics Books, $24.99): This one grabbed me as soon as I read the high-concept in the solicits: A man decides to be as evil as possible so that he’ll be reunited with his dead wife in Hell when he dies. Depressing, existential AND romantic? I couldn’t sign up quickly enough for Chris Wright’s original graphic novel debut.
Chris Ware: Building Stories HC (Pantheon Books, $50.00): To be honest, I run hot and cold on Ware’s work; as a formalist, he’s wonderful and his work is technically perfect, but I don’t always get the emotional hook that I want from his work, and that’s a real problem for me. Luckily (or not? This is a pricey book to gamble on), the technical aspects of this box set of interrelated publications, all seen for the first time here, sounds interesting enough to sample no matter how cold the writing leaves me. Damn my curiosity about comics formats!
Happy! #1 (of 4) (Image Comics, $2.99): I’ll admit it; I’m more than a little dubious about the “It’s a hit man teaming up with a magical flying My Little Pony” set-up of this new series, but it’s Grant Morrison and Darick Robertson, so I almost feel a sense of “How bad can it actually BE?”
Steed and Mrs. Peel #1 (BOOM! Studios, $3.99): I’ve always enjoyed the old Avengers TV show at something of arm’s length, having only seen a handful of episodes (but enjoyed them greatly); what draws me to this new series is the presence of Mark Waid, who seems to be on fire these days between Insufferable and Daredevil.
Stumptown: The Case of the Baby in the Velvet Case #1 (Oni Press, $3.99): Oh, you should’ve seen me when I found out this was finally coming out. Not only did I absolutely love the first Stumptown series a couple of years ago, but I’ve also been on a Greg Rucka novel re-reading kick recently, so finding out that Dex’s client for this new story is the lead character from A Fistful of Rain made me almost impossibly happy. Easily my most-anticipated book of the month.
Reading Greg Rucka feel anxious about the timely release of his new Stumptown arc got me thinking about the strange, hypocritical and entirely arbitrary attitude I have somehow developed toward the shipping schedules of superhero books versus creator-owned comics. Warning: It may be ridiculous.
“This past year, 2011, I was asked this question a lot, and here we are into the first quarter of 2012, and it’s happening again (or still, if you rather). Most frequently, it comes up in regard to my work in the comics industry. Last year was not banner for the ladies, and this one isn’t off to a strong start, either, in fact. Wasn’t good for women within the industry itself, nor within the pages of the stories being told. Those who’ve had the unmitigated temerity to actually comment upon this state of affairs publicly have ended up paying a surprisingly heavy price. The gender of the speaker has been largely irrelevant, though to be sure, it’s the women who’ve stepped up have taken the harder hits. But all who’ve pointed out the absence of women both on the page and behind it have been ridiculed, insulted, and, absurdly enough, even threatened with violence. Conversely, those attempting to defend their mistreatment of women within the industry have revealed a staggering lack of understanding, empathy, and self-awareness, while seeming to rejoice in an arrogance that is near heart-stopping in its naked sexism and condescension.
To say there are those who don’t get it is an understatement; it would be like describing the Japanese tsunami as ‘minor flooding.'”
– Greg Rucka, in an essay addressing the frequently asked question,
“How Do You Write Such Strong Female Characters?”
Free Comic Book Day | In anticipation of Free Comic Book Day on Saturday, the San Francisco Chronicle interviews Joe Field of Flying Colors Comics, who came up with the idea in the first place, inspired by “free scoop” days at ice cream shops. [San Francisco Chronicle]
Free Comic Book Day | John Jackson Miller traces the 10-year history of Free Comic Book Day. [The Comics Chronicles]
Conventions | ReedPop Group Vice President Lance Fensterman takes stock of this year’s Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo and sees plenty of growth, both in attendees (42,000 this year) and exhibitors. It looks like the show will continue: “We feel like we got the answer we needed. We made maybe a little bit of money, which is fine. Year 3 is when we expect to start to see some positive cash flow, but even more so we felt that the community embraced the event and the turnout and the ticket sales reflect that—and that is just what we needed to see.” [ICv2]
Legal | Todd McFarlane Productions has emerged from bankruptcy after more than seven years, having paid more than $2.2 million to creditors, according to court documents dug up by Daniel Best. Of that, $1.1 million was part of McFarlane’s settlement with Neil Gaiman, which brought to a close the decade-long legal battle over the rights to Medieval Spawn, the heavenly warrior Angela and other characters (it’s unknown how much of that disbursement was eaten up by legal fees and how much actually went to Gaiman; the writer has publicly stated he gives money won in the proceedings to charity). Todd McFarlane Productions filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in December 2004 following the $15 million court award to former NHL player Tony Twist, who sued over the use of his name in Spawn for the mob enforcer Antonio “Tony Twist” Twistelli. McFarlane and Twist settled in 2007 for $5 million. [20th Century Danny Boy]
Creators’ rights | Gerry Giovinco points out that the mega-studio that is Walt Disney got its start because Walt signed a bad contract and lost the rights to his creation Oswald the Rabbit. Giovinco calls on Disney, as the parent company of Marvel, to acknowledge and perhaps actually compensate the creators of the products it is marketing: “I can’t believe that a company as wealthy Disney cannot find a way to see the value of the good will that would be generated by establishing some sort of compensation or, at the very least, acknowledgement to the efforts put forth by these creators.” [CO2 Comics Blog]
Digital comics | John Rogers discusses working with Mark Waid on his Thrillbent digital comics initiative. “There are people who are selling enough books to make a living on Amazon, whom you’ve never heard of. Because Amazon made digital delivery cheap and easy. That is what you must do with comics. It’s not hard. The music business already solved this problem. Amazon already solved this problem. It’s not like we’re trying to build a rocketship to the moon out of cardboard boxes. Webcomics guys — and this is kind of the great heresy — solved this problem like ten years ago, using digital distribution then doing print collections and also doing advertising and stuff.” [ComicBook.com]
In February, Stumptown artist Matthew Southworth teased that he and writer Greg Rucka would return this summer with another installment of the Oni Press crime series. Now on his blog he’s revealed the title of the series, “The Case of the Baby in the Velvet Case,” as well as the cover art for the first issue, which should arrive in August.
Debuting in 2009, Stumptown follows Dex Parios, a Portland, Oregon, private investigator with a gambling problem who, in the first miniseries, accepted a job tracking down a casino owner’s granddaughter in exchange for settling her debt.
Awards | Two titles from First Second won the graphic novel categories in the 2011 Cybils Awards, literary honors given by bloggers who write about children’s and young-adult books: Ben Hatke’s Zita the Spacegirl received the graphic novel prize in the Elementary & Middle School category, while Vera Brosgol’s Anya’s Ghost won in the Young Adult division. [Cybils]
Digital | With the Vita on the way, Sony is shutting down its PSP comics service, and users will lose their comics come September. [Gameranx]
Graphic novels | Craig Thompson’s Blankets made Oprah’s list of the eight greatest love stories of all time, taking its place alongside Brokeback Mountain and The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. [Oprah.com]
MoCCA on the East Coast, Stumptown on the West Coast—the past two weeks have been busy ones for comics creators and fans alike. I made it to MoCCA, but the grass is always greener on the other side of the country, and it looks like there was a lot to see—and buy—at Stumptown. Here’s a sample of the offerings, starting with Dylan Meconis’s slew of tiny watercolor paintings, above.
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? This week’s guest is Alex Segura, executive director of publicity and marketing at Archie Comics. But we’ll always know him as the guy who founded The Great Curve, the blog that would one day morph into Robot 6.
To see what Alex and the Robot 6 crew have been reading lately, click below …
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy on Wednesday based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on what we call our “Splurge” item.
If I had $15 this week, I’d probably put it towards the latest issues of series I’ve been enjoying for awhile: Batman Inc. #4, New York Five #3, Justice League of America #55 – Yes, even with my nervousness over Brett Booth’s art – (All DC Comics, $2.99) as well as Jeff Parker and Gabe Hardman’s Hulk #31 (Marvel Comics, $3.99).
If I had $30, however, I’d probably put JLA back on the shelf and add The Arctic Marauder (Fantagraphics, $16.99), instead. I found myself enjoying Tardi’s Adventures of Adele Blanc Sec earlier this year, and
Splurgewise, it’s a tough one – I’d like to pick up the collection of Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan’s second Demo series (DC/Vertigo, $17.99), but I see that the hardcover collection of Greg Rucka and Matthew Southworth’s spectacular Stumptown (Oni Press, $29.99) is out this week, and that really falls into the
category of having to have it. I’ll grab Demo next week.
The Stumptown Comics Fest is moving to a bigger venue next April, the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, in order to accommodate the ever-larger crowds that show up each year. “In recent years the exhibition hall has been packed to the gills,” notes the official announcement; “this move to the Convention Center will give attendees room to breathe with 30,000 square feet of exhibition space (nearly double the square footage) and will allow the amount of table to be increased with room for future growth.”
In other news, Indigo Kelleigh, one of the founders of the fest, is returning as its director. Kelleigh, who took some time off to focus on his own work (he is the creator of the Tintinnesque webcomic Ellie Connelly), is back in the director’s chair, and he plans to expand the show beyond its indy roots to include some of the more established creators in the area. This year’s guest list already includes Carla Speed McNeil, Molly Crabapple, Kurt Busiek, Larry Marder, and Barry Deutsch, who got his big break at Stumptown a few years ago: Agent Judith Hansen saw his comic, Hereville, at the show, and Scott McCloud, who had the booth next door, gave him a referral. Hansen took Deutsch on as a client and landed him a contract with Abrams, which will publish the book in October.